Mentor Texts for Teaching Citizenship

It is vital that we teach all our students how to practice good citizenship. After all, the actions of each individual person at home, in school, in communities, in states, countries, and the world impacts all of us. It really helps determine what kind of world we are living in.

If you are looking for a way to bring the conversation about good citizenship into your classroom, consider using mentor texts! Below you will find ten of my favorite mentor texts for teaching citizenship.

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1. Lillian’s Right to Vote

Lillian, a one-hundred-year-old African American woman, is thankful for her right to vote. As she makes the trek up a steep hill to her polling place to exercise that right, she thinks back over the long journey that led to that right. This years-long battle was fought by many, including some of Lillian’s own family members.

2. The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life With the Chimps

This book gives us a glimpse into the life of Jane Goodall, the world’s expert on chimpanzees. Jane has ALWAYS been a watcher of animals, even as a young child in London. We learn how she made her way to Africa and eventually dedicated her life to protecting the chimps.

3. What if Everybody Did That?

All our actions, big and small, have an effect. If one person breaks the rules, it may not be such a big deal…but what if EVERYBODY broke that same rule? This book is an awesome introduction to the idea that we all have to work together to make the world a better place.

4. One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia

When plastic bags first begin to show up in her village, Isatou thinks they are wonderful- so many beautiful colors, and endless uses! Years later, these same bags are everywhere and are causing problems for humans and animals. Isatou takes action and comes up with a creative solution.

5. Tree Lady

In this true story, Kate Sessions uses her passion for plants to bring big change to all the parks in San Diego. This book’s powerful message about believing in yourself, persevering, and following your dreams is sure to inspire your young readers!

6. We Are Water Protectors

Once she learns about the sacredness and importance of water from her grandmother, a young indigenous girl takes a stand to protect Earth’s most precious resource against the “black snake” that poses a threat to it.  

The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful and help to tell the story of this brave girl and her people. This book would be a beautiful tie-in to a conservation lesson too.

7. Say Something

The world needs your voice. Beautifully and simply put, this book explains why all voices in this world are important and why it’s important to say something when you have a great idea or see something that is not right. Everyone has the power to use  his or her voice to make the world a better place, and it’s important to do just that!

8. We Live Here Too

This one is written in an old-fashioned, “advice-column” style, which makes it a little extra fun! Kids “write-in” to ask advice on real-world problems, like, “Does it really matter if I throw my gum on the ground?” The questions are answered in creative, thought-provoking ways that are sure to get your students thinking about the importance of good citizenship.

9. One Hen

After the death of his father, some families in the village give Kojo’s mother a loan, and she gives a small amount to Kojo. He buys one hen, which turns to a flock of 25 hens, and then into the largest poultry farm in the region. Kojo then starts a trust that gives small loans to people in need. It’s a powerful story about how a little bit of help can truly change someone’s life.

10. Who Will I Be? 

When her teacher asks what she wants to be when she grows up, Isabel doesn’t know how to answer. When her dad asks what makes her happy, she knows right away that it’s helping people. That’s not a job though, is it? Isabel begins to explore the different jobs people do that truly help others- doctors, police officers, teachers, soldiers, firefighters, and more. 

If Citizenship is a focus in your classroom right now, check out my Character Education Citizenship Unit. The activities included encourage your students to make their home, school, and world a better place!

Character Education Citizenship - SEL Citizenship Activities in Print and Digital


I have tons of other character education units as well, like this one on Respect. It includes everything you need to teach your students the importance of respecting themselves and others.

Character Education: Respect

Interested in even more mentor texts? Check out the posts below!

Mentor Texts for Teaching Responsibility

Mentor Texts for Teaching Fairness

Mentor Texts for Teaching Kindness


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